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Mike Leake and The Cincinnati Reds: Are They For Real?

CINCINNATI - MAY 15:  Mike Leake #44 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the Gillette Civil Rights Game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on May 15, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Diamond NotesCorrespondent IIIMay 17, 2010

When spring training was wrapping up in late March, I felt the St. Louis Cardinals one-two pitching punch of Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright along with Albert Pujols made them the favored team in the National League Central. The only weakness I saw was that they are injury prone and appear to have very little depth.

At the start of the season, here's how I saw the National League Central.

Wins

Team          '09 Record    '10 Predictions

St. Louis      91-71           93 - 96 wins

Chicago       83-78           85 - 88 wins

Cincinnati     78-84           82 - 86 wins (Most improved team in the division)

Milwaukee    80-82           73 - 76 wins

Houston       74-88           73 - 76 wins

Pittsburgh    62-99            60 - 63 wins

Best Players (by position)

Position  Player             Team

C          Hernandez        Cincinnati (Cardinals fans can make a good case for Molina)

1B         Pujols              St. Louis

2B         Phillips             Cincinnati

3B         Ramirez            Chicago

SS         Ryan               St. Louis

LF         Braun               Milwaukee

CF         Stubbs             Cincinnati (Pittsburgh McCutchen is a close second)

RF         Jones               Pittsburgh

SP         Carpenter         St. Louis

Closer     Hoffman           Milwaukee (age may catch up to him)

Offensive Line-up

St. Louis

Cincinnati

Chicago

Milwaukee

Houston

Pittsburgh

Rotation

St. Louis

Chicago

Cincinnati

Houston

Milwaukee

Pittsburgh

I looked at the Cardinals as the No. 1 team in the National League, so I predicted them to win the Central. I noted to keep an eye on Cincinnati, as they are putting together a solid group of young players and are not far away from competing for the division title. I just did not realize that it may be this season and that Mike Leake would make such a big contribution.

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